Places I’d Like to Visit: Washington D.C.

Fitting for Presidents’ Day, it’s a good day to mention how much I’d love to visit Washington D.C. Many preservationists are fortunate to live and work there, and thanks to social media, the rest of us can catch glimpses of life in and around D.C.

From the monuments to the free museums to the rich architecture and significant history, Washington D.C. is a must visit for all. It’s been almost 20 years since I spent time in D.C., so it’s verging on not counting anymore, and really beyond my recollection of places. Here are places in D.C. in my list, three or less in each category to keep it reasonable. How long would these take me to see? Please add your own, too.

The National Building Museum was formerly the U.S. Pension Office. Click for source.

The National Building Museum was formerly the U.S. Pension Office. Click for source. This is the museum on the top of my list.



Preservationists I’d Like to Visit

Have you seen the U.S. Interior photos? This recent one of the Lincoln Memorial is beautiful.

But beyond that, I don’t know much of D.C. Where are the best places to live? Where are the best places to visit? To eat? This is a pretty standard list, probably, but it’s my starting point. What about you, fellow travelers? Let’s talk road trips and adventures!Which places do you know you’d like to visit, despite not knowing exactly what you’d do when you got there?

A Visit to the Long Island Museum: Coney Island and Jones Beach

The Long Island Museum in Stony Brook, NY is a place that most Long Island schoolchildren visit and probably know as “The Carriage Museum” or “The Stony Brook Museums.” The museum grounds have a schoolhouse, blacksmith shop, and other historic buildings that you can explore. The carriage museum is home to thousands of carriages. And the art museum hosts the rotating exhibits. Previously, I wrote about my visit to the exhibit “America’s Kitchens.”

This season (June 14-December 29) the featured exhibit was, “Coney Island and Jones Beach: Empires by the Sea.” The south shore of Long Island, Jones Beach included, is near and dear to my heart and Coney Island is on my list of places to visit, so my family headed to the museum for an educational afternoon. Unfortunately, copyright rules prohibited any photography. The following quotes are from the exhibit and the Long Island Museum exhibit page.

“If Paris is France, then Coney Island, between June and September, is the world.
George Tilyou, owner of Steeplechase Park, 1886

“You may cross the world and find no resort to compare with Jones Beach.  No other beach or playground offers so much for so little…”
Meyer Berger, writer for the New York Times, 1947

The two exhibits worked their way in opposite directions of the museum gallery, meeting in the middle. Visitors were able to choose how to begin. Historic photographs and maps, antique objects, archival video footage, and well written text carried you from the beginning of both places to the present. Highlights included vintage lifeguard uniforms, an oral history interview (video) with a man who had been a lifeguard for 60+ summers, Coney Island signage, and video of the crazy amusement rides. (Read: I wish the steeplechase ride still existed.)  Did you see the photo post of the parachute drop? It is the only structure remaining from Steeplechase Park and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

The Steeplechase at Coney Island. Source HABS via wikipedia. Click for link.

The Steeplechase at Coney Island. Source HABS via wikipedia. Click for link.

Coney Island has a long, winding, interesting history of politics, transportation, amusement, culture, and it’s ever changing story of use, multiple parks and reputation. Have you been? I also want to ride the Cyclone, a 1927 historic wooden roller coaster that scares the living daylights out of most people.

Need some more information about Coney Island? Check out Coney Island History and the Coney Island History Project. And here’s a good post from a Brooklyn blogger.

As for Jones Beach: it is a New York State Park that opened in 1929. At 2,400 acres, it was the first public park of its kind, almost resort like for anyone. The park opened with swimming pools, art deco bathhouses, an amphitheater, sports fields, a two-mile boardwalk – all open to the public. If you’re driving on Ocean Parkway, you know Jones Beach by the pencil shaped water tower.  In 2012, the Cultural Landscape Foundation declared the park at risk on its annual “Landslide” list due to lack of funding and a lack of comprehensive planning. The park is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

This rotating exhibit space at the Long Island Museum always puts on an enjoyable, educational show. I enjoyed learning more about Long Island, though now it has me wishing for those warm summer amusement months.

Have you been to your local museum lately? Have you learned anything new about your hometown or region?

Preservation ABCs: X is X-ray

Preservation ABCs is a series that will work its way from A to Z, bringing words into conversation that are relevant to historic preservation, whether it’s an idea, feature or vocabulary term. The idea is to help you see preservation everywhere you look and wherever you go. Enjoy! See previous letters.


X is for X-ray 

X-rays are not just for people in hospitals or luggage in airport security; x-ray technology provides non-destructive testing techniques to aid in building forensics as well as art and object conservation. Non-destructive testing allows for greater exploration without unnecessarily harming historic fabric. X-rays can detect voids in building materials as well as leaks, cracks, and other signs of deterioration. Part of this is to understand the structure and ensure the safety of the researchers/contractors. X-ray fluoroscopy is used to identify materials such as lead, which you know is a common question about buildings today. (See NPS Brief 35: Understanding Old Buildings.)

If you’re involved in the preservation technology field and the building sciences, you know how in depth this topic can go (books, courses, careers). Check out this NCPTT report for more information about x-rays and other digital technologies in historic preservation. It is important to remember that science and historic preservation are connected, just as engineering and preservation are linked.

Home in Vermont


Everyone gave such great answers to the questions about home, that it is taking more time to prepare than anticipated. It’s a great subject, and I’ll be sharing soon. Thanks all!

Black Friday, Flannel Friday & Small Business Saturday

The term “Black Friday” did not originate in reference to the consumer madness following Thanksgiving Day in the United States. Historically, “Black Friday” refers to September 24, 1869, the day when the gold market crashed at the hand of Ulysses S. Grant. To his credit, he was attempting to improve the economy, but it didn’t go as planned.

“Black Friday” as a shopping day originated in the 1960s, when Philadelphia reporters described the rush of people at the stores on the day after Thanksgiving. However, even before the 1960s, this day was important to the retail industry and Christmas shoppers. According to Time magazine (A Brief History of Black Friday):

As early as the 19th century, shoppers have viewed Thanksgiving as the traditional start to the holiday shopping season, an occasion marked by celebrations and sales. Department stores in particular locked onto this marketing notion, hosting parades to launch the start of the first wave of Christmas advertisements, chief among them, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, running in New York City since 1924. The holiday spree became so important to retailers that during the Great Depression, they appealed to President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1939 to move Thanksgiving up in order to stretch out the holiday shopping season. Roosevelt obliged, moving Thanksgiving one week earlier, but didn’t announce the change until October. As a result, Americans had two Thanksgivings that year — Roosevelt’s, derisively dubbed “Franksgiving,” and the original. Because the switchover was handled so poorly, few observed it, and the change resulted in little economic boost.

Do you shop on Black Friday? Shopping is tempting sometimes because it’s easy to get caught up in the advertising. However, it’s also chaos and according to this Atlantic article, only a few items are actually the best deal. Shoppers beware! But, really, if you choose to shop on Black Friday, that’s fine. Still, can we all agree that it’s just not fair for stores to open on Thanksgiving Day when they are kicking off Black Friday? We spend all day and weeks prior telling the internet for what we are thankful and then we head out to the stores immediately after we finish the turkey and pie? It seems a bit off-kilter.

As an alternative to Black Friday, some towns and cities like Montpelier, VT have Flannel Friday which encourages shoppers to wear flannel and shop at local businesses. If you wear flannel, you get a discount. In other places it’s called “Plaid Friday.” (Vermont likes to be different, of course!)

Saturday November 30, 2013 is Small Business Saturday, an initiative led by American Express to encourage people to shop at local businesses. Merchants, if you’re an American Express member, you’re set. Customers, if you enroll your card and then spend $10 using your American Express card, you can get $10 back from American Express. Check out the full details here and then sign up here!

Shop Small on Small Business Saturday!

Shop Small on Small Business Saturday!

Will you shop? What is your preferred day? What is your favorite local store? Share any good links below.

Flamingos in NYC: Lower East Side

What do a flock (excuse me, flamboyance) of flamingos look for in a NYC visit? We visited The High Line, the amazing elevated railroad rehabilitated into a public park, which feeds the urban planning interest among us. We also spent time in the Lower East Side, exploring with the Lower East Tenement Museum and on our own.

A good museum isn’t always easy to find, but the Lower East Side Tenement Museum had been on our preservation-visit wish list for years. It did not disappoint! It is not your typical museum. With a baby flamingo & stroller in tow, we were unable to take an interior tour, so fortunately the weather cooperated and we enjoyed an “Outside the Home” tour. With an engaging, knowledgeable guide, the group walked the Lower East Side neighborhood, learning of the history of its residents and buildings. Did you know that a “tenement” is any building with more than three families in it? However, it’s the connotation that most of us know.

Behind this facade is one of the oldest buildings in the lower east side.

Behind this facade is one of the oldest buildings in the lower east side.

The fire escapes are so interesting.

The fire escapes are so interesting.

One of the schools. (The playground is located on the rooftop, if you're wondering.)

One of the schools. (The playground is located on the rooftop, if you’re wondering.)

Looking up in Chinatown.

Looking up in Chinatown.

A former movie theater house was located in the center building. What a beauty!

A former movie theater house was located in the center building. What a beauty!

Our regret was not being able to take additional tours. The tickets for the 90 minute tours are about $20 each, which seems expensive; however, it is worth the money. Let us not forget that museums require money to operate. And it’s an amazing story of the women who found 97 Orchard Street and established the museum for all to learn about the immigrants in this neighborhood.

Speaking of money, the gift shop is one of the best. (Aren’t museum gift shops always greatt?!) We browsed around for a while as we waited for our tour time.  You can buy your tickets ahead of time, or buy them on site, though some of the tours fill – so plan accordingly.

Inside the gift shop/book store. Good stuff.

Inside the gift shop/book store. Good stuff.

After our museum visit, we strolled around the neighborhood and stopped by the Saturday Hester Street Fair for lunch and browsing. Tents were filled with homemade food (ice cream sandwiches, small plates, pie, smoked meat, ice pops, noodles, soup – all sorts of options) and other tents featured homemade jewelry and other crafts.  It was a nice way to pause between our walking and mass-transit adventures.

Hester Street Fair.

Hester Street Fair.

One of the Hester Street Fair finds.

One of the Hester Street Fair finds.

Strolling the LES.

Strolling the LES.

If you are in New York City, plan to spend some time in the Lower East Side. There’s much more than just museums and fairs, and it deserves much more time than we flamingos had to visit.

Lunchtime at the street fair.

Lunchtime at the street fair.

Georgia, VT Schoolhouse

This schoolhouse – District No. 2 in Georgia, Vermont – is listed in the National Register of Historic Places and has been restored according to the Secretary of Interior’s Standards. It is also known as the Georgia Stone School.

View of the schoolhouse from the road.

View of the schoolhouse from the road. The stone section was built in 1843. The frame addition was constructed to bring the school to education standards.

National Register of Historic Places.

National Register of Historic Places.

These windows are replacement in-kind.

These  8/8 windows are replacement in-kind. The window bank is an easy identifier of a schoolhouse.

A small parking lot is set away from the schoolhouse and visitors walk through the trees. The cars do not obscure the historic setting of the building, as they are out of sight.

A small parking lot is set away from the schoolhouse and visitors walk through the trees to this view. The cars do not obscure the historic setting of the building, as they are out of sight.

Looking inside the ell.

Looking inside the ell.

Another view inside the ell.

Another view inside the ell. See the chalkboard on the back wall.

The stone school house has historic photographs and documents on display.

The stone school house has photographs and documents on display.

What a beautiful restoration it is. The schoolhouse is privately owned, and is open for private special events. It’s nice to see historic buildings rehabilitated for personal use.

Flamingo-grams Special Edition: Flamingos in NYC!

Just a lovely blur of weekend with some of the flamingo gang as we toured New York City. Expect more to about our trip, but here’s a collage for now, posted for the benefit of those who do not follow PiP on instagram or Twitter (@presinpink on both).  Enjoy! There are many more photos to come! {Click the individual photos for larger images and full captions.}

Moments of Silence

Today is September 11, 2013. Twelve years and one day ago, the world was a very different place. We’ll never forget, and moments of silence will always show respect and thoughtfulness on this day. Please, take a moment of silence today to remember those who died and those who suffered and for everyone who helped because of September 11, 2001. Today, proudly display your American flag, and remember that we’re all in this together.

The American flying in Port Jefferson, NY.

The American flying in Port Jefferson, NY.

By now, we’ve all spoken to each other many times about where we were on September 11, 2001. If you haven’t yet, write down your story to share with your children and grandchildren. Because they’ll want to know the same way you want to know significant days in the lives of your parents and grandparents.  Or write it for your own memory when you’re old and gray. Everyone’s story is important.

Project Drive-In

Save the Drive-in

Save the Drive-in. Project Drive-in.

Drive-in theaters represent classic Americana, a part of our roadside, automobile-loving culture that is still tangible on the landscape. The first drive-in opened in Camden, NJ in 1933.  At the height of the drive-ins in the 1960s, there were thousands; whereas today there are only 368 drive-ins operating. Drive-ins declined with the creation of air-conditioned movie theaters, the increase in land values, and a sinking reputation that followed. Now the greatest threat to drive-ins is the necessity to convert to digital projection, which all must do by 2014 – a cost of about $80,000. Without this conversion, these remaining drive-ins will not be able to reopen for the 2014 season.

Project Drive-in is a partnership between Honda and all drive-ins across the country. Honda will donate five digital projectors to the drive-ins that earn the most votes. Aside from votes, you can also pledge money to the drive-in project, which will help to fund the drive-ins. Watch the Project Drive-in video to learn more. It’s about three minutes long, with great stories and images of drive-ins at the end. Definitely worth a watch!

How can we help Project Drive-in? There are four things that this project recommends:

(1) Vote!

(2) Donate what you can.

(3) Spread the Word via twitter, facebook, blogs, emails, word of mouth, anything!

(4) Pledge to visit a drive-in this summer. Not sure where there is one? Check out the map to find one closest to you.

Have you been to a drive-in theater? Where? Is it still operating? A few that I’ve come across in my travels include the 66 Drive-in Theater, Carthage, MO; the Moonlite Drive-in, Abingdon, VA; Badin Road Drive-in, Albemarle, NC; Sunset Drive-in, Colchester, VT; St. Albans Drive-in, St. Albans, VT; and the former Rocky Point Drive-in, Rocky Point, NY.

I hope you’ll make the pledge in one form or another. Drive-ins have a special place in my heart. While a historic preservation undergrad at the University of Mary Washington, I wrote a research paper on drive-in theaters and nostalgia in American society. That was a fun semester for this American girl.

And lastly, what do you think about Honda sponsoring this project? Most of us aren’t fans of big corporations, but it is nice to see one helping out. It makes perfect sense that a car company would partner to save drive-ins. After all, it’s hard to go to a drive-in theater without a vehicle! However, here’s some drive-in trivia for you: there were also fly-ins and drive-ins for boats. Often towns and schools and community groups have big screen nights out on a green space, but there’s something unique about a vehicle drive-in. To see them disappear from the American landscape would be an absolute shame.

See these related posts from Preservation Nation.

Save the Drive-in!

Save the Drive-in!